A win-win mentality does not mean for self, it is creating wins for others
Last week, we introduced a new series, Creating Wins, with a focus on the different layers of who a hospitality manager needs to create wins for. Part one focused on The Inviter, who wants to host their customer or key counter-party at a hospitality event. Part two focuses on how to create a win for the customer, The Invitee.
When someone accepts an invite to any event, and regardless of whether they bring plus-one(s) or fly solo, you are on the hook their experience from invitation to follow through. It is the responsibility of the hospitality manager to provide a unique return on their investment of time; to provide a Best.Day.Ever.
White Glove Treatment
In part one, we defined “Silver Platter” as making The Inviter look good. In short, it requires the hospitality manager to ensure smooth, above-and-beyond expectations for The Invitee so that The Inviter can take all the credit. Put more simply, the Silver Platter theory is a standard of service that provides White Glove, Red Carpet experience for The Invitee – making them feel, whether they truly are or not, like a bona fide VIP – and it needs to extend to each touch point and interaction before, during, and after the event. Every guest must be prepped for, spoken to, treated, and regarded in the highest possible way.
Before the Event
It all starts with the invitation, for which The Inviter must be enabled to make a great first impression. Once accepted, it is time to handle all accommodations – from ticket delivery to travel and lodging. The hospitality manager must ensure they are able to capture all the necessary data and information to book everything while asking for the least amount of effort from The Invitee. Be sure to capture everything up front, in one action. For smaller events, consider the personal touch one can put behind a phone call or email exchange; for larger events, perhaps an online form would serve you better.
Due to COVID-19, if there are any physical parcels to be handled such as event tickets, the safe move is send them digitally. Most stadiums are well equipped to handle eTicketing and ensure the safety of your guests. However, some folks just like the nostalgia that comes with a physical ticket. Ask them what their preference is. Guests typically feel more secure about their experience once they know their ticket is in hand, so it’s Best.Day.Ever. practice to start with that. Then, you can move into the travel, lodging, food and beverage, and other White Glove service questions that will enable you to execute the logistics.
The hospitality manager needs to be a walking, talking, personal version of Expedia. Same as with tickets, ask for preferences. For flights, what seats do they like and at what time do they want to leave and / or land? For hotels, what are their room preferences and what amenities do they want? Are they comfortable with Uber, or do they have a preferred car service? Be sure to get a clear and concise budget from The Invitee and work within it. Best.Day.Ever. prides itself on optimizing a given budget and creating the best possible outcome.
The Ultimate Concierge
Your job as a hospitality manager in the weeks leading up to and during the event is to be the know-it-all genius who is the one-stop resource for a seamless experience. Having the extensive knowledge to FAQs in your back pocket builds trust and limits any frustration from The Inviter and Invitee before it begins. For example, where are the gates in relation to the parking lot? Are cameras or tablets allowed in the venue? Where is the closest bathroom / team store / etc.? What time do we have access to the field pregame and are the field passes transferable? Can a guest bring their purse in? What about a suitcase?
Beyond knowing the answers and responding in a timely manner, it is imperative that the hospitality manager leverage their stadium connections to make The Invitee feel special; an underrated part of the experience. “Well Mrs. Invitee, typically the stadium does not allow for suitcases in the stadium, but I will meet you outside of the gate and give your suitcase to our team rep. They will hold it for you until you decide to leave. Sound good?”
Lastly, it is always a good idea to have clear communication around timeline and expectations leading up to the event. Often times this can be relayed by The Inviter, but there should always be a workflow that allows The Invitee to bring be in the know and ready for what is to come.
During the Event
First impressions are everything. When meeting The Invitee, smile and call them by name. When greeting their guests, ask for their name with a smile and repeat it back. People like hearing their name out loud and it shows you are making a concerted effort. Do this wherever the greeting takes place; as they walk through the suite door, in the hallway, parking lot, you name it! Due to the recent Pandemic, it is great practice to greet a guest right at the gate and walk them to the appropriate premium space, opening all doors and pushing all buttons for them.
In this premium space, the same treatment is required. Perhaps even more White Glove since you are interacting with them in person. Anyone can hide emotions or fake a connection behind an email or phone call. Now, everything from your words to your mannerisms are on display and you should care about that.
Read the Room
The best way to provide a white glove hospitality experience in-event is by reading the room. Monitor what the guests are doing and react proactively with professionalism and passion. See someone alone for a long period of time? Go ask if there is anything they need or start a small conversation. See a larger group of people laughing and smiling, ask if they want to take a picture. See the food starting to deplete, order more before the tray is empty. Note that every event and attendee will be different, and you need to adapt to each circumstance and personality.
After the Event
Do not ghost The Invitee! You spoke with them before the event, helped plan their trip, compiled research, met them at the gate and guided them to the suite. You took care of them, engaged in several great conversations, took pictures, gave prizes during activations, and helped find the Uber Lot afterwards. You must follow up on the interaction.
Send The Invitees all pictures taken and a note of thanks. Remember the quote on not caring who gets the credit? Say thank you to them for giving you such a great time. Keep in mind that you are creating wins for The Inviter and The Invitee, not for yourself. This follow up reminds The Invitee of two things: 1) their best day ever, and 2) that experience was provided to them by The Inviter. The effect is a stronger relationship and a more demonstrable level of intent for future business with the hosting company.
Exceptional customer service is not a two-way street. It is taking care of the customer, beyond their own expectations. Best.Day.Ever. is exploiting this niche in the premium hospitality sector. We create wins for both The Inviter and The Invitee. Click the link below to find out how we can create a win for your business.